NBA top negotiator says throttle down on CBA talks
AP Sports Writer
SECAUCUS, N.J. (AP) – The NBA’s lead negotiator in contract talks with the players has a sense the sides understand each other and a full-court press is under way to reach a new collective bargaining agreement.
NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver disclosed Tuesday that the sides have agreed to hold two days of extensive meetings in early June in the city of the Western Conference champion, which would be either Dallas or Oklahoma City.
“The throttle is down,” Silver said. “We realize time is short. Both sides are very aware what has happened in the NFL and the disruption to their business caused by the work stoppage. Both the owners and the union want to avoid that at all cost. We’re determined to make progress between now and the end of June.”
Silver made his comments Tuesday, sitting next to Commissioner David Stern at a news conference before the draft lottery to determine the No. 1 pick.
The lead negotiators for the two sides met Friday in New York City, where Silver spoke with Gary Hall, the lead attorney at the players’ association. Hall died unexpectedly on Sunday at 67.
The last time the NBA had a work stoppage was 1998.
Stern said he believes the sides are farther along in negotiations with six weeks left in the CBA than they were 13 years ago. He said the owners and players are well aware how much money will be lost if there is another stoppage.
“Our success has raised the stakes and sort of made it in some ways more urgent to make a deal … as we look in the abyss together,” Stern said.
Silver said the league has shared all its financial information with the union and admitted it is willing to discuss different ways to reach an agreement.
With projections calling for the league to lose $300 million this season, the owners are looking to cut player salaries by $750 million annually.
The players are dead set against a hard salary cap, but Silver and Stern said the league is looking to create a system where owners can make profits from their investments and all 32 teams can compete for a championship.
“It would be hard to point to substantive progress in terms of the issues, but I think there is a sense that we are coming together in terms of a common understanding where the NBA finds itself,” Silver said. “I think we have agreed to disagree on multiple ways to reach that end and more than happy to discuss alternatives.”
Silver and Stern reiterated that both sides want to reach a negotiated settlement and not end up in the courts, where the NFL is now bogged down.
“It’s early on in a 15-round fight and we’ve in essence said to the union in our negations: ‘Let’s focus all our attention on a negotiated resolution and that’s what we are doing,” Silver said.
Silver said the meetings in June will involve small groups, the full labor relations committee along with executive committee of union. He added the ‘silver’ lining to having the Los Angeles Lakers eliminated in the second round by Dallas was that it freed Derek Fisher, the president of the players’ association to take part in the talks.
Silver said Stern and union executive director Billy Hunter have worked well to bringing the league to new heights.
“I think it would be irrational not to achieve a negotiated solution,” Silver said.
On other issues, Stern said he was excited to see new teams in the conference semifinals, saying having the likes of Kevin Durant and Oklahoma City and Derrick Rose and Chicago in the conference finals gives fans the ability to see the NBA’s next generation of stars.
Stern made note that the opening game of the Heat-Bulls series drew the largest cable audience for an NBA game.
The commissioner said Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov was successful in bringing the NBA to a more global audience in his first season as New Jersey’s owner.